R. S. Thomas

Thomas, R. S.

R.S. Thomas (1913-2000) was born in Cardiff and grew up in Holyhead, off the island of Anglesey in north Wales. He was ordained in 1936 and spent his career as a clergyman in rural Wales. In 1942 he became rector of Manafon, Montgomeryshire where he stayed for fourteen years, after which he moved to Eglwys Fach in west Wales. He remained here until 1967 when he moved to his third and final parish, Aberdaron on the Llŷn peninsula.

The work of R.S. Thomas spans half a century during which time he published over a thousand poems in over twenty collections. His early work describes rural life as he observed it in Manafon. His descriptions are uncompromising and intimate, his idiom cutting and economical. Nationalism becomes a major theme during his time in Eglwys Fach. It was during this time that he learnt Welsh, the language in which he wrote his autobiography Neb (Nobody, 1985). During the final decades of his life, religion and questions about the nature of divinity, man's perception of divinity, and the possibility of expressing this perception through language, become paramount in his work. He is regarded as one of the leading poets of the twentieth century. He won the Heinemann Award in 1955, the Queen's Medal for Poetry in 1964, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize.